Toll prices increase in area for the first time since 2008

These rates are going up as the board tries to offset money lost during the pandemic when people weren’t driving as much.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 2:33 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2023 at 5:42 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved toll price increases along its Expressway System this past spring.

Starting Sept. 1, tolls will increase from 70 cents to 90 cents for E-ZPass customers at the main toll plaza on Powhite Parkway and the Downtown Expressway. Drivers using cash will pay $1.

Tolls for the Boulevard Bridge will also increase from 35 cents to 45 cents for those with E-ZPass and 50 cents for those paying with cash.

RMTA’s last toll increase was 15 years ago in 2008, when it raised toll prices from 50 cents to 70 cents.

These rates are going up as the board tries to offset money lost during the pandemic when people weren’t driving as much.

Money generated will go toward improving road safety on expressways.

“We’ve come up short in our expenses during the pandemic period. This is to recover and maintain our roadways and recover some of those funds we use to maintain the roadway,” said RMTA’s Board Chairman Marvin Tarte.

Since 2008, operating and maintenance expenses have increased by 23.3%.

Maintenance and improvements for the next six years will reach $96.3 million.

The transportation system does not receive federal or state tax dollars. The transit authority solely relies on user fees from tolls.

Since fiscal year 2008, the RMTA has invested more than $143 million in capital improvements along the Expressway System

Not all agreed with the original proposed plan.

Chesterfield County Representatives Donald Williams and Steven Mulroy proposed to drop the price for main toll plazas to 85 cents.

Williams argued the increase will hurt families’ and businesses’ pockets that are already facing economic challenges from the record-high inflation.

“Wage inflation is not keeping up with the inflation rate. A slow approach to adjusting the tolls would be prudent,” Mulroy said.

“This may have an impact on how they spend their excess funds, they’re discretionary money. This may affect the way their kitchen table finances are spent,” Williams said.

Despite the pushback, the board moved forward with the original proposal this spring with a 14-2 vote.